Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Pulitzer's Ghost"

An interesting comment was made in the "Ever saw a brick street" thread by a new commenter for the STL Rising blog, "Pulitzer's Ghost".

"Re: "How is it possible for someone to live in the same community for forty-something years, and never traveled around enough to see some of our most interesting sights?"

That's one of the things that, to me at least, is so interesting and maddening about St. Louis: The term St. Louis means radically different things to different people, based on where they were raised.

I grew up in Florissant and we went to a trivia night at the Letter Carriers Union Hall on Broadway a couple years back. One of the categories was "St. Louis" and we didn't get a single one because to the people writing the questions, St. Louis = South St. Louis."

What a great observation! "Pulitzer's Ghost" is on to something. St. Louis does mean different things to different people. Thanks, Pulitzer's Ghost, for the comment! (Great pseudonym name too...)

1 comment:

Andrew J. Faulkner said...

My only thought on the microcosm people seem to construct around themselves and their immediate neighborhood here is that there are a whole lot of people trying to prove Tennessee Williams right when he said St. Louis was "cold, smug, complacent, intolerant, stupid and provincial”.

But maybe I shouldn't say that because he grew up across the street.

In any case I believe it is the allegiance to neighborhood and only neighborhood that has left St. Louis with such a weak identity and has enabled whole swaths of the city to fall out of mind for most people. Ride your bike on Cabanne from Union to Hodiamont, or around Fountain Park, or through the Central West End north of Olive and try to tell me those neighborhoods were rightly ignored for 40 years. It is this same attitude that fosters complacency when significant works of architecture and our shared cultural heritage are felled, one after another, for surface parking lots.

Neighborhood pride has its place, but it should be set aside when it begins to affect allegiance to the city as a whole.

As a trivia fact: Meet Me in St. Louis was set on the North Side in the Academy neighborhood. The house in which it was set was demolished in January 1995 for $3,800. No one noticed. It is now a vacant lot owned by LRA.